The first casualty of the recession was my right arm

The first casualty of the recession was my right arm. Before I hear everyone cry, has the market dropped out for giving executive relief to woodland creatures behind the town hall, no, that’s still as active as ever.  From what I hear.

I was a regular down at the blood donors for several years before one of the nurses told me that I had super blood and would I mind donating platelets. Now, I get time off work for attending, so upping my time away from the office from one hour to two and a half every four months was a no-brainer. Plus I could up my visits to once a month. Winner on both counts.

When doing something charitable those that benefit, or are involved someway, are incredibly grateful. Giving blood got me a couple of cups of coffee and as many biscuits I could cram in to my pockets. Platelets would go one better. Table service.

However there was one down side. It’s a similar effect one gets when one decides to go to the cinema and indulges in a couple of crafty jars before the movie starts. One beer isn’t enough, but two will tip you over the edge. The pain of needing to urinate will hit its peak about ten minutes from the end of the movie. By then it’s too late. Leaving will mean missing the climax to the movie. Staying will involve the dread that you may not make it to the end without wetting yourself. Wetting yourself as an adult must be one of the most humiliating experiences one can suffer.

So you sit it out in severe pain, waiting for your bladder to burst, hoping you can make it out of your seat and to the toilet in time.

When donating nurses would make sure you were comfortable and bring you as many cups of coffee as you wish. Blood was drained out of the body, spun in a centrifuge to remove the platelets, mixed with a coagulant then pumped back in to the body. One’s entire blood supply would be drained twice in the process. The useful bits being collected in a bag attached to the machine. It used to take me 80 minutes to donate so if I’d got tanked up on three or four coffees by twenty minutes in, the last sixty would feel me with dread. Could I hold out? It’s not like being in a cinema where you can leave at any time you like. When one is attached to a large machine by a rubber hose tipped with a huge needle, moving far isn’t an option.

However my days of donating were numbered. Due to the recession some wise guy had decided to up the pressure at which the blood, once spun and filtered, was pumped back in to the body. This cut the time down from 80 to 60 minutes. They could get more clients through a day. That was the theory.

I’m reasonably skinny with veins to match. Pumping fluids against their will at high pressure in to my body was a recipe for disaster.

When the alarms went off on the machine I began to worry. The swelling in my arm was a second indicator all was not well. The pain was the final clincher. The nurses turned the machine off, removed the needle and then began to apologise profusely. Explaining the new policy. Well it was an experience.

So much for super blood. I’m now back as a regular blood donor. Blood letting, once every four months or so.

Like the old ESSO glasses promotion, for every pint donated one gets a club card point. What do points (pints) make? Prizes. Well, in a fashion. For around 150 points (or 150 pints, that’s several bathtubs full) you can claim the top prize, a cut glass decanter. Donating platelets used to get me 2 points a visit. So I could get in theory 24 a year but now I’m back down to three. I reckon it’ll rake me another 30 years to get that decanter.

I’m a reasonably patient person. I can wait this one out. It will be mine.


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